Vanilla 2.5 release schedule & features
It's been a long year.
We branched 2.4 back in January, but it took us until April to announce a beta and then... things stalled. It's increasingly difficult for me to coordinate releases for both cloud and open source, so I put out a request for a release manager to help out, but no one stepped forward. That led me to come up with a release schedule sync to allow me to handle both at the same time. Unfortunately, I can't sync things retroactively, and 2.4 remained sidelined. I'm sure many folks used it in production without incident, but I never felt comfortable sending it out for general consumption, being at a random fork point we don't really have the resources to support.
I'm happy to say we're ready to shelve the 2.4 release permanently and move forward with a defined release timeline for 2.5 this year.
We plan to release a 2.5 beta no later than Nov 21, with an release candidate to follow by Dec 5. The 2.5 gold release will happen by Dec 22 at the latest.
What's new in 2.5?
If you're currently using 2.3, you can look forward to the following new features:
- Dashboard fully redesigned.
- Full, native API support.
- Flat categories - a Vanilla-only innovation.
- Enhanced security features, including a dedicated Dashboard area.
- All-new category management page.
- Full IPv6 support.
- Twitter card support.
- OAuth 2.0 support.
- Apple touch icon support (in core).
- Hundreds of translation improvements.
- Hundreds of bug fixes.
- Tagging core support for developers.
- JSON-based addon definitions that allow priority setting & better dependency controls.
- Better category scaling and advanced developer features.
- Improved logging and debugging features.
Let's talk about three things in particular.
1. Dashboard redesign
We started from the ground up with our new Dashboard, the first major product revision by our in-house designer. The new Dashboard looks fresh, works consistently, and is organized more coherently. For developers, we have a fully-featured style guide built in to the software, and the new layout allows for a more extensible and sensible approach to modifying our menus and navigation scheme. Plus, it remembers the page you were last on!
2. Flat categories
This feature allows thousands of subcategories to be navigated seamlessly without scaling issues. Consider the use case "I need a category for every publication by a company" or "I need a category for every city in the world". A flat category allow paginating thru a long list of its subcategories in alphabetical order rather than a custom sort, and comes with a user-facing module for quick searching. It also doesn't "bubble up" latest post data to parent category, which limits the need for database updates.
3. Native API
Years in the making, this API represents a seamless reboot of Vanilla from its foundations. We have a fully documented and standards compliant API designed to give you low-level access to all of Vanilla. You wanna build a full-featured mobile app? A whole separate UI? The tightest integration with a forum anyone's ever seen? Go for it. No more messy hooking into data-querying events and slinging fuzzy data around in the guts of Vanilla. This is a fully unit-tested and reliable interface to build your next forum-based project on top of. In coming releases, we'll be transitioning Vanilla into an API-first model where it strictly uses this new API for all its internal functionality. As we do, more and more of Vanilla's features will be exposed via API. For now, we have core functionality, and a dynamically-updating in-Dashboard docs system to personalize your endpoints depending on what addons are enabled on your forum. And, most impressively, we did all this without breaking everything that came before.
I'm happy to answer questions about the upcoming release or our new release process here. It's bittersweet to bury 2.4 before it arrived, but we've made great strides in 2017 and this release will tie it all together nicely.